Synchronicities may seem like a rarity, but especially on retreat, it feels like these holy surprises happen often. Someone shares a story that resonates with another; an image appears just when one is seeking it; a deeper meaning is discovered creating a SoulCollage® card. There is an inkling of something more, a sense of being very near to the “thin place,” buoyed and embraced by the Divine. I wonder, do these moments actually happen more often than we notice?
Recently on retreat, our opening prayer invited us to be grateful for “moments of synchronicity and holy surprise.” Mary, Queen of Angels, a blessing from Birthing the Holy: Wisdom from Mary to Nurture Creativity and Renewal by Christine Valters Painter, prompted a discussion on synchronicity.
Marilyn, who has been to many retreats over the last several years (and is also my dad’s first cousin…another serendipitous story) was curious about the definition, so we looked it up:
Simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related, YES! But rather than events having “no discernible causal connection,” I think of synchronicities as connections seen with the inner eye. They are holy coincidences. Both mysterious and meaningful, these holy surprises open our eyes in new ways. The voice of synchronicity encourages us to be aware, to look and listen deeply. Throughout our retreat, we enjoyed identifying these many moments with an exuberant, “That’s synchronicity!”
A few days after our retreat, when we were all back to our daily life, I received a card in the mail from Marilyn. She had written, “I hope the picture on this card brings you a moment of serenity.”
Indeed, it did, and a giddy feeling of serendipity! I love the image on the card so much that some twenty years ago I purchased a signed and numbered canvas of it titled “Pages of Time” by Gene Roncka and it is hanging in my kitchen!
Smiling in amazement, and yet not as surprised anymore when synchronicities occur, I took a photo of both and sent a message to Marilyn. She responded, “This is absolutely surreal. And I think it may be synchronicity.
I forwarded the photo to our retreat group with the message— “Can you say synchronicity?”
C.J. Jung, who popularized the term synchronicity, believed that life was not just a series of random events. Waking up to meaningful coincidences, he said, “could shift our thinking so we recognize a greater wholeness in all of creation…It could precipitate a spiritual awakening.”
There are so many invisible forces and connections weaving a web that holds us in its grace. The more we look, the more we see. It is only with eyes open to wonder, holy surprises, and synchronicity that we experience the humbling and awesome fall to our knees. There we are uplifted by invisible forces and surrounded by angels who “walk among us in seen and unseen forms.” In these moments, we see new pathways and possibilities. I agree with Brian McLaren who said “The closest thing to God is when we say WOW!” Holding tight to this knowing sustains us when our faith is not as strong or challenges present themselves.
I used the Pages in Time card from Marilyn to create a SoulCollage card I titled “Sit A Spell.”
“You who sing among the angels, help us to feel their sheltering and guiding presence in our days. Reveal to us all the ways we are held, comforted, uplifted by invisible forces; remind us to call out for help when needed and to lean into the grace so freely offered to us. Let us see how angels walk among us in seen and unseen forms; encourage us to offer gratitude for moments of synchronicity and holy surprise when we are met with kindness and sacred possibility, when we see a new pathway where before was only bramble. Mary, Queen of Angels…help us to know you walk beside us always.” -Christine Valters Painter
More reflections on synchronicity:
Carl Jung and Synchronicity: The Search for Meaning in Coincidence
The Power of Synchronicity and How It Can Shape Our Lives